If you’ve seen the term “OG” pop up in online media or social feeds, I won’t blame you if you have only a vague idea of what it means. Most of the time, it seems like an internet slang term that could refer to anything and everything. Urban dictionary’s top definition says it used to mean “original gangster” but is now used as a shorthand for “original.” A quick Twitter search for #OG ran the gamut from workout goals to happy birthday wishes to pictures of adorable dogs in winter sweaters. So, what the hell does OG actually mean?
The short answer: it means a lot of things to a lot of different people. In weed culture, OG are two letters you will see in front of a lot of strains that feature the parent strain, OG Kush. Given the frenzied pace of strain breeding right now, hot new strains come and go, but OG Kush has maintained its indisputable popularity. It’s even Weedmaps’ number one most popular strain and reigning Strain Madness champion.
This sativa-leaning hybrid is best known for its epic potency, with THC percentages regularly coming in at 20-25%. Some OG Kush consumers report long-lasting effects that land more in the head than the body, while intensifying sound and color. Described as having an earthy, berry, or citrusy taste, this happy, giggly, and relaxed strain is outstandingly social. No wonder strain breeders seek its parentage.
The OG origin story
Now that we know what to expect from consuming this uber popular strain, let’s dig into its weed culture nomenclature — and there are a lot of theories. Some say it’s an acronym for “ocean grown,” “original gangster,” or a shortened version of the word “original.”
To know what OG means, you need to know the names of two cannabis growing forefathers who first became friends and roommates in Los Angeles in the early 1990s: Matt “Bubba” Berger, who currently works as a consultant and dispensary owner in Denver’s legal cannabis market, and Josh Del Rosso aka Josh D, Founder and Managing Director of Josh D Farms.
In Berger’s telling, he cultivated the strain in Florida from a random bag of flower he got from a friend in 1992. Another friend, impressed by the strain’s frosty colas, said the buds resembled “kushberries,” which was then shortened to “kush.” In 1996, Berger returned to LA with his kush seeds, and he and Del Rosso planted Kush, Bubba (another of Berger’s strains), and Purple Indica in the crawl space of a rental house they shared.
Word of Del Rosso and Berger’s Kush strain took off and demand soared, reaching $8,000 a pound in the late 90s — that’s around $13,400 in today’s dollars. But with success came imitators hoping to cash in on the Kush phenomena. Del Rosso and Berger added “OG” to their original Kush to distinguish it from all the others, which stands for “original.” Adding one more layer of confusion, Berger and Del Rosso’s Kush is totally separate and unrelated to landrace kush, an indica that originated in Afghanistan.
OG Kush was hugely popular with 90s consumers, largely for its inclusion in hip hop culture in Los Angeles. It’s been said it was a favorite of super star pot celebrity Snoop Dogg and rapper B-Real of the West Coast hip-hop group Cypress Hill (who later released an album titled Greatest Hits from the Bong in 2005).
“Ocean Grown” Hails From Northern California
One theory about the origin of the term OG in weed-lore is that it stands for “Ocean Grown.” As the legend goes, a Northern California coastal grower who mastered the art of cultivating Afghani kush (more on this strain later) met a fellow pot smoker one day and the two got to talking. Before long, the grower’s new friend pulled out a bag of weed and offered to pack a bowl. As soon as the bag was opened and the cultivator — who hadn’t revealed his occupation — smelled the herb and saw the buds, he knew that it was the weed he’d just grown.
Commenting on his stash, the owner of the weed said he could tell from the aroma that the bud was mountain grown. Not ready to accept an uninformed review of his harvest from a stranger, the grower replied, “Nah, man, that’s that ocean grown weed,” or ya know, something to that effect. But the term “ocean grown” stuck, and it’s remained a popular descriptor for weed among coastal California growers and tokers.
These days, going into a dispensary to pick up a new bag of weed, pack of edibles, or gram of concentrate can be an overwhelming experience. Not only are there countless product categories to pick from, but once you’ve decided on flower or vape cartridges, the next step is finding the perfect strain. With so many varieties with silly, serious, and outlandish names, it can be hard to know what any of the colorful names actually mean.
As the legal cannabis industry continues to grow, new strain names are popping up like weeds. There are tried-and-true classics like Grandaddy Purple, Chem Dawg and OG Kush, fruity labels like Blueberry and Strawberry Banana, and pastry-themed strains such as Wedding Cake and Girl Scout Cookies. More recently, plenty of newly popularized candy names have been created like Zkittles and Runtz. Having said this, nothing compares to the “OG” strains that have been around since the beginning.
OG Kush – The Famous Strain
When it comes to strong indica strains, few varieties have been more consistently popular than OG Kush. But what is OG weed? A long-running staple of the California and global cannabis scene, O.G. Kush is a heavy-handed hit of THC with a pungent smell of gasoline, pine, and skunk. Although O.G. Kush has been ubiquitous throughout the world of weed for more than two decades, the strain name’s origin is still highly contested with multiple urban legends laying claim to the “OG” moniker.
Finals Thoughts about OG Kush
Josh D recognizes OG Kush as a medicinal aid that has helped thousands and thousands of people over the past two decades. However, he is concerned that the genetics of many premier cannabis strains are being compromised due to the rapid increase in cannabis cultivation. He names Grand Daddy Purple and Blue Dream as examples of strains that are easy to cultivate and are flooding the market, often using fake names.
Regardless of where it originated, OG Kush is currently one of the most sought after indica-dominant cannabis strains on the market. If it is even available at your dispensary, it is likely to be more expensive than the majority of other strains. It is high in THC at about 23% and full of terpenes, known for its euphoric and sedating effects. It is important to note that the OG Kush that you purchase at your dispensary may not be an offspring of the original phenotype.